Thursday, November 12, 2015

Carey Torgesen: published author? A Personal Publishing Paradox

So I know many of you have been witness to many tweets about my experience with a small press and the release of my book, The Princess Paradox. While I have many things to say, I won’t feel completely free to talk about them until everything ends and the dust settles. What I can say is that by November 15, my book will no longer be available.

The press I signed with is closing its doors and will no longer be in business. The good news is that this ends a long time struggle I have had with this "press". It means I get my rights back to my book and if I should choose, I can self-publish it. It means I am no longer having to give profits to a publisher who really hadn’t done a lot in terms of what I was promised. It means that when everything is over, I can actually talk about this entire experience without worry of being sued, even though everything I will share is absolute truth.

But it also means my book, the one that started me on this whole journey won’t be out there anymore. It means Nora’s story is probably done. Because I really didn’t ever want to self-publish my own books, for many reasons. I want to be agented. I want to get a contract with a big publisher. I want my books to be on shelves at big time bookstores. I want to do readings and signings and conferences. That would be my dream. (All of which was promised when I signed the contract.) Unfortunately, that’s not what usually happens with self-published books.

But Carey, you say, I have heard of people who self-pubbed and attracted an agent that way! Have faith! And to you I say, that is akin to winning the lottery. Does it happen? Sure. Is it likely? Not really.

I'm not bashing those who choose self-publishing at all. To those that have the time to promote and market and do what needs to be done, awesome. I really admire you. It’s just not what I want, nor do I have the energy for it.

The reality is to self-publish a book and do it WELL, you need to have money for things like covers, swag, and promotional materials. You need to have someone be able to edit and format your book into e-book and print format. You need to be able to buy and have an ISBN number and get your book registered and copyrighted. There are tons of related costs that people don’t think about. Then there are the press releases, writing to magazines to try and get your book read and reviewed (and usually big magazines like USA Weekly and New York Times won’t touch a self-published book). And in case you didn’t know, most indie bookstores and major ones won’t stock self-published books. They simply lack space on the shelves.

You know all those major displays with new releases and such? Those all cost major dollars. Yep, publishing houses pay for those books to be displayed. And they pay big.

So this whole journey has been bittersweet. Sure, my book was out there. For a few weeks anyway. I don’t know if I had it to do all over again if I would. I am heartbroken that this book I loved so much will never be touched by a press again, that no agent will ever want it, that the press that “debuted” my book—knowing they were about to go under— pretty much screwed my writing career. I can’t use this as something on my query letters, I can’t say I’m published, but I can’t say I’m not either. I am in this weird netherworld where nothing really makes any sense at all.

I guess I should be thankful. I didn’t have to pay for a lawyer to get my rights back. No one will make money on my hard work.

But, it’s like a death in many ways. I am having to say goodbye to this dream that I’ve had for over two years (yes…that’s how long ago I signed…that’s how long it took for them to release my book…which was supposed to be released last year…twice. And then this year…twice. But the rest of that story is for another post.) I am having to part with this book, these characters, this world because I will never get published with this one, and it makes no sense to put in the amount of hours it takes to write a book, just to not be able to query it traditionally because it’s a sequel.

This, on top of a loss of a very different type that I can’t even begin to explain, makes it all so much worse. I want to keep writing, I do. But right now, my faith and hope is really at an all-time low, in pretty much every area of my life. If I were a hero in a book, I guess I would be at the Supreme Ordeal. I am not sure how my own story ends right now. Maybe this is the closest I will ever come to being published. Maybe for some, the stars are just too far to touch. I really don’t know.

If I end up self-publishing, I will be sure to let you all know. Until then…I guess I’ll just have to wait to see how my own story ends. And there will be tears and tissues and plenty of wine and chocolate to help me cope with these emotional bruises.